No One Really Cares If You Don't Go To The Party
“I quickly needed to accept my new-normal. Instead, I blatantly ignored the entire notion that I was cripplingly miserable while doing something I knew wasn’t good for me.”
Words by Eleana Davidson
Image by CatGuts
For as long as I can remember, and maybe this diminishes with age, I have always cared a lot about what people think of me. I have also always been exhaustingly aware of my emotions. I know very well what makes me happy and off the back of that, I also know very well what doesn’t. For a vast majority of my life, these two traits, elements, components of my personality have clashed somewhat tragically.
Much earlier than most people my age, I stopped enjoying drinking, going out and socialising into the wee hours. It wasn’t ideal when this transition from keen clubbing enthusiast to stay-at-home grandma happened when I was predominately based away at university. I was surrounded by a mass body of epic drinkers so the change in myself was, well, weird and to feel weird in such an insecure time of my life anyway, wasn’t overly nice.
I think I speak for most of us when I say that we go through university to ‘find ourselves’. We find out how tolerant (or not) our stomachs are to £7.99 Vodka and we also find that the easiest way to make friends and bound meaningful relationships is on a sticky dance floor belting our lungs and souls out to S-Club 7 at 2:55am on an early Thursday morning. At 19 years old, it was a weird concept to grasp that I, former “let’s neck three bottles of Lidl’s finest rosé for an hour-long pre-drinks”, could no longer stomach the thought of any form of alcohol, let alone going out and socialising past 9pm. In trying to find myself at university, I found out something I didn’t really like.
Admittedly, I did struggle with this. For a good few years I forced myself out with my girlfriends and classmates only to get myself in situations that would cause me a great deal of anxiety, to no fault of anyone other than my own, I should mention. I quickly needed to accept my new-normal. Instead, I blatantly ignored the entire notion that I was cripplingly miserable while doing something I knew wasn’t good for me. I undoubtedly knew I was miserable, however absolutely resentful of any problem-addressing that I knew had to be done. I’d say yes to the invitations in an attempt to protect and nurture my undying need to be liked and accepted, to then either go out and have a dismal time or bail at the last minute anyway due to my nerves. Neither outcome was favourable.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some wicked times inside nightclubs, festivals, and house parties. It definitely hasn’t all been panic attacks and tears, but that was always because of my wonderful friends making me laugh until I cried (in a good way). Being in a nightclub at 4am was just a somewhat inconvenient addition to the scenario. For a long while, however, I thought friends and nightclubs were a hand-in-hand product. Who would want to be friends with me if I didn’t like getting drunk and ‘having fun’? For a long time I couldn't distinguish the difference between what I was experiencing and having fun, and I have people in my life that still can’t, but that’s okay. Like I said, the need for people to like you diminishes with age.
With a few years gone by, we’re here in 2019 and a lot of things have happened, adapted and consequently changed in the meantime. I started narrowing down the root cause of my anxiety, panic and woes, and began to decipher what it was I had to do to look after myself. I began to realise saying no was okay and people would pretty much instantly get over it. I quickly realised that it was my anxiety doing the thinking when I thought my friends wouldn’t understand my need to give Cameo a miss that night. To be honest, I found and understood myself more than ever the second I started declining invites and putting my well-being first. I found the easiest way to form meaningful and permanent relationships with my friends was to be honest and open about my struggles. My need for love and acceptance from others was nurtured best when I straight up said it’s a no from me. Best of all, the more I opened up to my inner circle, the more I realised I wasn’t weird for feeling the way I do, and they found out they weren’t weird either. I think we forget that people won’t really care if you don’t go to the party. Your friends won’t resent you the morning after the night out because you got an early night instead. The people who love you are the only opinions that actually matter, and I bet you, no, I promise you, all they care about is you looking after yourself and being happy.
I’d be chief photographer before my housemates went out on their weekly Varsity night. They would make sure Netflix was raring to go, and give me a cuddle before telling me they’d see me in the morning for the night’s report. More often than not I’d get a little tap on my bedroom door at 5am with one of them crawling into bed with me because they missed me. My home friends love that I make an appearance at pre-drinks and then wave me off the same time their taxi pulls up at the drive. Plans are arranged away from the drinking scene and my true friendships didn’t even take the slightest bit of a beating because of my swerve away from clubbing. My best friends would be bodyguards at big crowded events, and I’d be their sober, voice of reason, shoulder to cry on if they ever needed it. My friends know and understand that I don’t like going out, and no longer ask me if I’d like to join for a Saturday night Walkabout session. Not because they’re over me, but because they respect and love me.
For a long long time, I was so scared of being ostracised and identified as weird, that I underestimated my loved ones and, in effect, underestimated myself. We’re so quick to forget that honestly, no one really cares if you’re not at that party or big end of term night out. Don’t decline yourself your right to not like something, it’s not doing anyone justice. Say no, say yes, do whatever you feel like you need to and be you. The people who are worth it will love you because of it. As soon as you start doing that, you won’t lose anything aside from your anxiety-ridden worries. All you’ll be doing is finding yourself.